Nighttime Programs

We regularly offer three after dark programs, to suit every interest level and budget, and to get you closer to the cosmos.


Tours, Stargazing,
Programs, and Exhibits

Review NOP Observing

Find planets and constellations in the night sky - AstroViewer

Ongoing Night Program Options

Nighttime is not soon forgotten at Kitt Peak

Nightly Observing Program

Your introductory, family-oriented stargazing program

Enjoy an evening of astronomical wonder far from city lights under the celebrated dark skies of the desert southwest. From high atop Kitt Peak you will experience the night sky while professional astronomers work in the observatories all around you.

This four-hour program is an introduction and sampler for beginning stargazers (individuals, couples, groups, and families with children 8 years or older). This very popular program requires advance reservations.

The evening begins with a light supper, followed by a dramatic sunset viewing. Then our guides help you use star charts to locate constellations and take a binocular tour of the night sky. Lastly, you use the Visitor Center's research-class telescopes to visually observe a variety of astronomical objects, while also learning their importance. This program is held seven nights a week, throughout much of the year.

The program is not offered on certain holidays and from July 15 through August 31. Cost: $49.95 per person if reserved online, $55 if you reserve by phone. Go to NOP Reservations to see available dates and make your reservation.

Special discounts: $46.95 (if reserved online) or $52 (if reserved by phone) for students (elementary through college), active duty military, and seniors (aged 62 and older). Dinner includes your choice of a turkey or vegetarian sandwich plus snacks.

All day, evening, and special programs are free to members of the Tohono O'odham Nation except the Overnight Telescope Program (OTOP).

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NOP Program

Dark Sky Discovery Program

Your small-group observing program for people who have already begun their astronomy adventure

For guests already familiar with the night sky and who have some knowledge of astronomy, this observing program features a small audience size and is offered on nights with relatively little moonlight for intensive telescope viewing primarily of deep sky objects.

A group orientation and light supper in the Visitor Center begins the evening and is followed by sunset viewing. The rest of the program focuses on telescope viewing. The smaller group size (eight or fewer) enables you to have extensive interaction with your guide, participate in more in-depth conversations, and receive more views through the telescope eyepiece.

This program runs on selected nights parallel to the Nightly Observing Program. Your initial orientation and dinner in the Visitor Center as well as the sunset viewing are part of one larger group experience. However, after sunset you and other Dark Sky Discovery participants will separate from the larger crowd and proceed to a different telescope for a more intimate viewing experience. Advance reservations are required. Program is recommended for ages 14 and older, and is not offered in July and August. Cost: $74.95 per person if you reserve online, $80 if you reserve by phone.

Go to Dark Sky Discovery Reservations to see available dates and make your reservation. Dinner includes your choice of a turkey or vegetarian sandwich plus snacks. Program is subject to cancellation due to weather.

This program takes place in a telescope dome that is not accessible to wheelchairs.

All day, evening, and special programs are free to members of the Tohono O'odham Nation except the Overnight Telescope Program (OTOP).

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DSD Program

Overnight Telescope Observing Program

Your exclusive, customized private astronomy program

This is your night on Kitt Peak! This is a private, overnight telescope observing program at the National Observatory. Following the Nightly Observing Program, you and your guests have exclusive use of one of the Visitor Center's research-grade telescopes.

This personalized program is driven by your interests and goals. You can choose to spend all your time observing through the telescope, or you can take images using a Webcam, DSLR, or a CCD. A combination of the two modes is also possible. It's up to you!

Guests for this premium program have included night sky novices as well as advanced amateur astronomers from around the world. Your guide will help you customize your tour of the cosmos which can run right up to sunrise, if you wish. The program makes a great couples getaway or family learning expedition.

Three full meals are included and guests rest in their assigned dormitory rooms on the mountain at the end of the night. Checkout time is 2 pm on the following day. You must schedule at least 30 days in advance and it is not offered July through August. Spaces are limited. Go to OTO Reservation Request to enter your initial request for a reservation. You will be contacted by a Visitor Center team member.

Fees assume you and up to one guest: $650 for visual observing, $700 for Webcam or DSLR imaging, $785 for CCD imaging, plus current astronomer dormitory room and cafeteria charges. Full meals are served in the staff cafeteria. You may add to your group size at $100 per person program fee plus dormitory and cafeteria fees.

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OTO Program

Image Queue Program

You schedule us to do the observing and imaging for you if you cannot travel to Kitt Peak

If you live somewhere cloudy or light polluted, do not own the necessary equipment or have a busy schedule then consider this program. You request high quality, research grade images or other data to be taken from the dark, clear skies of Kitt Peak. You select the objects and the nature of the images you seek then we do the work for you. Work with our staff to map out your image and data needs. This is great for astronomy students and faculty, too. Think of the savings in travel costs! The sky is the limit in this program!

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